Fashion and travel influencer Olivia Ebrotie (@_Atomoli) stopped in McKinney for a one-night stay and shared some of her recommendations with our readers:
One of the things I enjoy about travel is how diverse it can be depending on who you are. For example, there is sustainable travel and there is also something known as a staycation. After living in the Dallas‑Fort Worth area for almost half a decade, I can confirm that each portion of North Texas may easily feel like a separate world, and McKinney epitomizes that notion. McKinney is only 30 miles north of Dallas, making it ideal for those of us who want to get some fresh air somewhere new without the hassles of traditional travel. Based on what I had heard before my visit and what I know now based on my visit, McKinney is a beautiful and welcoming community. It's excellent for a relaxing vacation or a quiet stay away from the daily grind. Plus, it boasts a diverse cultural program and numerous lovely tourist attractions ... so let's take a look!
Neathery Estate Bed and Breakfast
My plan was to stay authentic to the town whether it was the choice of hotel, food, and activities and there is nothing more authentic than The Neathery Estate (@theneatheryestate). Because of its architectural beginning as a family vacation home, The Neathery knows how to stand out even when it comes to embellishments. It is difficult to not be seduced by the elegance of the antique decor which can be translated to me as a taste of Marie Antoinette’s court without the drama. I stayed in the Alexandria room, which is a large, lovely room with a connecting living room ambiance and direct access to the sunrise. This charming inn shows its owner's personality in the way it is decorated, furnished, as well as the tourist advice it can provide which makes complete sense when you meet Innkeeper Tiffany Bellino. Tiffany is delightful, motivating, and eager to share her experiences as both an innkeeper and a traveler herself. Not only that, but she put me at ease by taking the time to learn about me, and I have to say that I appreciate her efforts in making me feel so comfortable. Don't even get me started on her cooking abilities, because the breakfast was wonderful and it was evident that the items utilized were of the highest quality. Therefore, it’s only natural that Tiffany was the ideal person to provide me with more precise advice on how to go about planning this vacation.
The Guava Tree Cuban Cafe & Cantina
I began my inquiry by taking a brief tour of downtown McKinney, where I saw some wonderful murals, one of which attracted my attention due to its vibrant pink hue and Spanish-written periphrasis. The structure related with this work of art is The Guava Tree Cuban Cafe & Cantina (@guavatreetruck), a special Cuban-American restaurant with all the charm and history you could want. I had the opportunity to meet Onel Perez, one of the owners, and learn about his family's relocation to Texas from Cuba, as well as how one remarkable woman, Onel's mother, was the catalyst for introducing Cuban food to that part of the world. I was astounded not only by the decor, but also by the history. You can undoubtedly trace the history of the entire family and how they contributed to the restaurant's upkeep. The spicy and sweet/salty meals are what distinguish Cuban cuisine. The utilization of exotic ingredients, such as tropical fruits or the famed fried plantains, add to the unique nature of this dish, which is exquisite. Other flavors and flavor combinations allow you to constantly reinvent the preparation, such as eating freshly-caught seafood. I was introduced to Cuban coffee, which is also reported to be a traditional recipe from the island that calls for each tiny cup of coffee to be topped with a generous amount of sugar. Cuban coffee is appreciated by taking it all at once, and I loved it, especially because I am not a great fan of coffee. As you can tell the food was amazing and the coffee was EVERYTHING. I almost wanted to get another order but I didn't want my food baby to stop me from visiting the cute little clothing store I saw just across the street...
Grady Ln Boutique - Shop local and inclusive
Just across the street is the loveliest tiny clothing store with the prettiest gowns, and you know how much I love dresses. Hallie, the owner, is a joy to speak with, and I admire her for launching her business during the pandemic while also being a mother to the most lovely little bambino Grady who is the inspiration behind the name of the boutique named Grady Ln Boutique (@gradylnboutique). There is a wide selection of apparel ranging from dresses to denim and everything to make the bohemian in me very happy. It is absolutely a destination to visit, and I'm sure hearing a little bit about how she was able to survive and build her business will definitely motivate more of us to do better. Consider it... we all know at least one outstanding lady in our lives who stood out in a professional context or as a leader, and Hallie was precisely that for me on this trip. Being a female‑owned business owner, however, entails more than just ownership. It entails putting your best foot forward and performing the task as well as, if not better than, anyone else. What's the bottom line? Today's society is incredibly supportive of women seeking business opportunity and ownership, so let's give the people what they want: more women‑owned businesses! And a nice bonus you don't find in a lot of boutiques - Hallie carries sizes small to 3X.
The Celt Irish Pub
There are pubs all around Ireland, from the famed Temple Bar in Dublin to the modest pub known only by residents in a remote town, and McKinney can be added to the list of places where Pubs are popular. The pub is not simply a location to consume a pint of Guinness, but it is also a place where lunch and early evening meals are frequently offered. Stan, one of the owners, greeted me and informed me that The Celt (@theceltmckinney) has been named "Best Irish Pub of the Americas" by the main Irish Pub Association in Dublin, so you can understand how honored I was to be there. I did try the Icelandic Lemonade, which had just the proper amount of sweetness to keep me awake.
The Comedy Arena
My idea of a great night is a small group of people getting together to make each other laugh. Each performance at Downtown McKinney's The Comedy Arena (@thecomedyarena) focuses on a different aspect of our daily lives that we often overlook, but when the comics mention them, you are amazed to see how much there is to celebrate everywhere.
Another fantastic clothing store is the Karadise Boutique in Adriatica, which is ideal for all my Europe‑obsessed friends. Adriatica was designed to look like a small Croatian town, and @karadiseboutique fits right in with the great everyday style vibe for any millennials out there. The aesthetic is a colorful yet subtle neutral baby pink that will undoubtedly put you in the mood to take your time and admire the various categories. There is something for everyone, but it is mostly focused on small children's and women's apparel with a self‑care component. Furthermore, the store's owner is another Wonder Woman with a beautiful story of perseverance including the challenges created by the pandemic in 2020. However, she was able to find alternative ways to keep her team and business afloat by adopting strategies I'm sure you'd like to hear about during your visit. I was really pleased to see how she treated her employees, which to me is a fantastic sign that any customers will be treated well, too. Moreover, she is really friendly and eager to let my inquisitive mind examine all of the things in order for me to gain a better grasp of the store. Overall, I had a great time visiting her store and I'm sure you will as well.
Zin Zen Wine Bistro
As previously stated, Adriatica is the ideal European alternative for us Texas residents, and nothing sounds more European than cheese and wine, which is where Zin Zen Wine Bistro (@zin_zen_wine_bistro) comes in to provide you with the ideal experience of either a charcuterie board lunch or a romantic supper. The restaurant is conveniently located, spacious, and offers activities including live music on alternate nights to keep things interesting. The owners are a beautiful married couple, both retired school teachers, who entered the restaurant industry years ago with little prior experience which is a clue to the level of passion and commitment to this cause. Just knowing that makes you instantly like them, right? With all of their children leaving the nest, you could say that this restaurant is their new baby. A baby who required a lot of love and attention but was fortunate to have a village of amazing employees who kept the crib running even during the pandemic. They are still going strong after all those years and will be happy to welcome you anytime. Owner Regina Reed welcomed me and gave me a detailed rundown of the activities, as well as a little fun event exclusively for the regulars. I had the baked brie, which was amazing and definitely warmed me up, and because I won't be able to taste everything, I'm dependent on you to keep me posted about the other flavors and offerings.